Woman plans prison visit to see autistic teenager who stabbed her mother|
NEWCASTLE, UK: Forgiving Rosemarie Hyland is planning a prison visit to an autistic teenager who stabbed her elderly mother, leaving her too afraid to leave the house alone.
Auguste Jury, 80, is plagued by nightmares and flashbacks of the attack when a knife was plunged into her throat in November 2006.
But Rosemarie doesn’t blame the youth — just 15 at the time — who was jailed for a minimum of two years and seven months.
For he suffers from autism, just like her own son Grant, 34, and grandson Alex, 11, who lives with her and husband Geoff.
Rosemarie, of Kenton, Newcastle, said: “How can I blame him? He is as much a victim of this as my mum. There but for the grace of God go I. That could easily have been Grant or Alex.
“People with autism don’t understand that their actions have consequences. I know the lad didn’t mean to hurt her, to him she was just a means to an end. People with autism are very single-minded.”
In mitigation for the teenager, defence counsel Richard Schofield told Newcastle Crown Court in April last year: “He wanted to be admitted to prison after he was told by his stepfather that prison was a good place to be ... somewhere he would have status.”
Rosemarie said: “I firmly believe that, if that family had got help they needed, my mum would not have been stabbed.
Afterwards his mother, who was very distressed, sent my mum a lovely letter apologising and we have since become friends. Her son is extremely remorseful and has said he wants to see me and my mum, so I am going to visit him soon.
“Many autistic people suffer from food allergies, so I have been advising her on his diet and she is trying to educate him. He understands that I’m trying to help him.”
After the stabbing, the boy — who cannot be named for legal reasons — returned to the scene of the crime and he was arrested.
Rosemarie, 53, added: “As soon as I heard that he had come back to show his girlfriend where it had happened, I knew he was autistic. No ‘normal’ person would dream of doing that.
“The police also said that they had had difficulty interviewing him and, when I asked if he was autistic, they said ‘yes’. When you live with autism every day, things like that are very clear signs.”
Rosemarie runs an online support group for relatives of autism sufferers.
She said: “We offer friendship, support and advice on things like diet and what benefits people are entitled to. More than anything, it is just sharing experiences and listening. Most of us run the gauntlet of being told we are bad parents or our children are just naughty. It is good to talk to someone who understands. Living with autism is very hard.”
(Source: Newcastle Chronicle, February 10, 2008)